Harry always tried to make out that computers and he didn’t get along.
The truth was, he didn’t like them, not because they had suddenly become a universal tool on every desk, in every house, and now in everyone’s left or right hand, but because of the impact they had on your privacy.
And the fact, now, in the age of computers, you had none.
Unless, of course, you chose not to have a footprint, which was Harry s first choice.
Ellen had convinced him otherwise. She had completed a computer course in college and said she could ‘put them on the map’ with a website. Harry initially said no, but she worked on him, and in the end, persistence won over, and he left that side of the business to her.
On the strict proviso that little personal information found its way there.
He let Ellen set up a website for the investigative business, and she had spent days, if not weeks, finding a website host and reading a large number of books about programming. Every day he’d come in, he picked one up off her desk, flicked through the pages, and put it back down again. There were very few words that he understood.
Still, at the end of the first month there was something quite interesting to look at, and, the very day it went live, Ellen had taken two calls, one of which led to a job. One she kept reminding him, that paid for the whole of the web sites costs.
He had to begrudgingly agree computers were going to be useful.
The one on his desk had lain ideal for months, and, today, he decided to turn it on. The previous one had been stolen in the break-in, so this was new and different. And Ellen had yet to set it up properly for him.
But he did know how to load the web browser and typed in the name of his father’s legal practice, and it went straight to the website.
He’d seen it before, and thought it very bland, but what he expected from a group of lawyers. They left the impact of wealth and power to the visit to the office, not a flashy website. All it had was small bios on everyone who was anyone and the types of law they handled.
There were, of course, closed areas of the site that needed a login, one which he didn’t have, but he was going to ask Giselle if he, or Ellen since Giselle knew her, could be granted access. He vaguely remembered his father saying there were areas set up for each of the partners to keep a record of their activities, and notes on cases.
Perhaps there might be a clue in his files.
Harry had also noticed that Ellen had set up areas on their own website where each of the employees could log in, and she had left a post-it note on his desk with his login and temporary password. There, she noted, were folders for each of his current cases.
When he logged in, he saw he could add new cases, and create case notebooks, so he created one for his next target, Mandy Prenderville.
About a minute after he created the file, Ellen was in the doorway, knocking on the door jamb to get his attention.
“Yes?” he said, looking up.
“Mandy Prenderville? Seriously? In what lifetime do you think she would have anything to do with any case you were investigating?”
She had a serious expression, and a look of fear in her eyes. She obviously knew who Many Prenderville was.
“It’s one of the leads we’ve uncovered. My father apparently had some connection to her, perhaps in a charity sense, but I have to find out.”
“Are you mad? You know who she is? Don’t believe everything you read about her in the papers. My grandmother can tell you stories about her that would make your hair curl/”
“I know. Tread carefully. Since I’m not all that good at searching for information, can you have a look, and let me know what you find. I’ll just poke around the edges.”
She shook her head and stopped short of saying ‘it’ll be your funeral.’ But I could read lips, and that’s what I thought she said. It also could have been, you are a complete fool.
There were several different directions to go in relation to searching for information on Mandy Prenderville, the first, was to follow her brothers on an odyssey of drugs, crimes, and death. The other, was that of a woman who was striving to make up for the shortcomings of her brothers, by running a charitable institution that had won everyone who was anyone over.
Except for one lone voice in the wilderness, a person with the internet handle of @downwithevilprendervilles, who made one simple statement, she was taking from the poor and giving it to the rich in the form of bribes. Why else would anyone believe that sob story that she is trying to redeem the Prenderville’s.
Dangerous words to a very dangerous woman. I wondered briefly if the person behind the handle had adequate protection. I’d have to ask Ellen if she could track down to who the handle belonged to.
I went to the Prenderville Foundation page and it didn’t have a lot to say about the foundation or it’s principal. The bio spoke of her in only glowing terms, and any reference to her brothers, or the criminal activities the family had been accused of over the years was sadly lacking.
I typed in the name and it came back with the father’s name at the top of the list. He’d been killed in a gangster shootout, one family trying to gain the ascension over the other, and the Prenderville’s lost that day. Several months later the head of the rival family was found floating face down in the Hudson, but no killer had yet been found. And for the lack of evidence and witnesses, the Prenderville father’s killer had got away with it.
Next was Jason, the dead brother, and after reading three articles on his record as a master criminal, it was fair to say he was anything but. Three jobs, three disasters, in fact, each of them vied for a spot on a show called ‘the world’s worst criminals. But, as guilty as he seemed, they’d got him on charges that did not relate to his criminality.
Clever. I would call that the Al Capone factor. Careless though, an old rival in the jail they sent him and his brother, shanked and killed him.
The same assassin tried to kill Mason and failed.
Mason Prenderville was a different kettle of fish, as the saying goes. He was squeaky clean, had others do his dirty work, and ruled by fear and intimidation. Anyone questioned him, they were dead within 24 hours. But in one instance, one that defied explanation, he had gone totally off book and killed a rival in front of witnesses, witnesses he could neither intimidate or buy. Now he was serving a life sentence, or more than one. He had only one lifetime and that’s how long he’d be staying in jail.
On whether they were guilty or innocent, Mandy had always maintained they had both been framed, and it was illogical that Jason could be guilty, despite the five independent witnesses produced to verify where he was and what he did.
She had bought the best lawyer, and the best lawyer couldn’t get him off. The best lawyer was now a lawyer with a limp. And not so many customers for his services. I added him to my list of potential people who could tell me about Mandy, especially if he hated the family so much, he would waive his professional integrity.
I made a note of that particular lead and closed the file.
It was time to go and pay Mandy a visit.
She was going to be downtown at the coal face of her charity, meeting and greeting the needy. 1 had to wonder, though, what sort of needy people would turn up to a downtown storefront.
© Charles Heath 2020-2022
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